Supporters of HS2 are growing increasingly anxious that Boris Johnson is prepared to scrap part of the high-speed railway project or overhaul it in a bid to redirect the money towards other transport in the north of England.
Local government leaders from the north and Midlands are privately concerned there has been a change of tone from No 10 since Christmas, causing nervousness that the government could scale back the scheme.
One pro-HS2 source with knowledge of Downing Street’s thinking said the future of the project, first announced in 2009, was “hanging in the balance” since the election campaign. Johnson’s transport adviser, Andrew Gilligan, is known to be against HS2, and Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, is also not keen, having described it last year as a “white elephant”.
The parts most under threat are thought to be the first leg between London and Birmingham or even the eastern leg from Birmingham to Leeds, with billions potentially redirected towards other transport links in the north and Midlands such as the proposed Northern Powerhouse rail project. This is a plan for a fast rail route between Manchester and Leeds, as well as potentially other northern cities. Read more